The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

2052Whoever had done it had meant business. Dead men are heavier than broken hearts.

What it’s about: Private eye Philip Marlowe is hired by a millionaire to track down a blackmailer and gets entangled with his spoiled daughters and a bunch of seedy characters.

Why I liked it: This is the first hard-boiled mystery I’ve read, and I was pleasantly surprised. Chandler’s writing style is very engaging, and his voice remains unique, even after all these years. In his sparse prose, Chandler precisely evokes the noir world he’s describing, whether it’s the lavishly decorated bedroom of a poor rich girl or a foggy Los Angeles night. Marlowe himself is always ready with a quip as he follows the leads and his hunches through the LA underworld, where the ground is littered with the corpses of red herrings. I loved Marlowe’s character, the lone guy with his own code of ethics operating in a world where pretty much everyone is tainted. It’s fun to read a novel that generated so many tropes and see where they came from.

You might like it if: You are a mystery fan and have yet to discover classic noir.

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